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Title: Children's processing of morphosyntactic and prosodic cues in overriding context-based hypotheses: an eye tracking study
Author: Armstrong, Meghan E.
Andreu Barrachina, Llorenç  
Esteve Gibert, Núria
Prieto Vives, Pilar
Others: University of Massachusetts
Aix Marseille Université
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
Keywords: intonation
l1 acquisition
Issue Date: Jan-2016
Publisher: Probus
Citation: Armstrong, M.E., Andreu, L., Esteve-Gibert, N. & Prieto, P. (2016). Children's processing of morphosyntactic and prosodic cues in overriding context-based hypotheses: an eye tracking study. Probus, 28(1), 57-90. doi: 10.1515/probus-2016-0004
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Abstract: This research explores children's ability to integrate contextual and linguistic cues. Prior work has shown that children are not able to weigh contextual information in an adult-like way and that between the age of 4 and 6 they show difficulties in revising a hypothesis they have made based on early-arriving linguistic information in sentence processing. Therefore we considered children's ability to confirm or override a context-based hypothesis based on linguistic information. Our objective in this study was to test (1) children's (ages 4-6) ability to form a hypothesis based on contextual information, (2) their ability to override such a hypothesis based on linguistic information and (3) how children are able to use different types of linguistic cues (morphosyntactic versus prosodic) to confirm or override the initial hypothesis. Results from both offline (pointing) and online (eye tracking) tasks suggest that children in this age group indeed form hypotheses based on contextual information. Age effects were found regarding children's ability to override these hypotheses. Overall, 4-year-olds were not shown to be able to override their hypotheses using linguistic information of interest. For 5- and 6-year-olds, it depended on the types of linguistic cues that were available to them. Children were better at using morphosyntactic cues to override an initial hypothesis than they were at using prosodic cues to do so. Our results suggest that children slowly develop the ability to override hypotheses based on early-arriving information, even when that information is extralinguistic and contextual. Children must learn to weight different types of cues in an adult-like way. This developmental period of learning to prioritize different cues in an adult-like way is consistent with a constraint-based model of learning.
Language: English
ISSN: 0921-4771MIAR

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